Question Japan or North America with Kids

Discussion in 'Passport' started by zac150, Feb 10, 2018.

  1. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Ok so after and awesome adventure in Canada this summer the plus one has got the bug, and mentioned that she would consider going back but just skiing.

    I’m keen after pricing out some other adventures I think we can do Canada a lot cheaper by staying in one place or maybe two for say two weeks.

    We have a 5 and 11 year old and have some concerns with Japan. Firstly our kids travel well, so we have no issues with that and they are pretty easy food wise and other cultures don’t phase them (actually they love it).

    The eleven year old is a solid skier (about level 7) the little one excelled in Canada this year.

    Our concernsis, is Japan the best for kids, how do they go with the powder or does it simply wear them out? Does it effect their learning progression?

    What are the ski schools like in Japan?

    Our debate and yes this is a first world problem is do we leave Japan for a few years until the littlest is a bit older and stick to North America for our next trip.
     
  2. pedub

    pedub Addicted

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    In my opinion it's easier to ski in Japan. I'm in BC now.
    Slopes are much flatter in Japan. Im talking about hokkaido.. Honshu probably has more steeps
    But
    Occaisionally you might get a day where the groomers are covered in pow and you'll be forced to ski it :)
    It does happen but not all the time
     
  3. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    It moreso depends on what sort of accommodation you like....
    Japan is a better destination for kids IMO. ..to experience stuff.
     
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  4. chicski

    chicski One of Us
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    I think if you plan it properly, the takkyubin makes the actual travelling bit so much easier with kids. Ditch the bags at the airport and head to Disneyland for a couple of days before travelling to your resort.
     
  5. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Traveling with gear and kids doesn’t bother us and we are more than happy to enjoy the cultural side of things. We don’t have to be in 5 star hotels either, actually I often prefer more authentic accommodation.

    I’m so much more judgemental of 5 star hotels.

    It’s really more about the skiing.

    What are ski schools like in Japan and how hard do the kids find the powder.
     
  6. Dave6

    Dave6 One of Us
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    Japan is fine for kids. Our youngest was 5 when we first went. The Aussie run ski schools are much like you would find anywhere else. I'd rate Myoko Snowsports the best ski school we have used anywhere.

    Plenty of groomers in Japan so powder is not really a problem. Need to be vigilant though. My kids have been known to get stuck playing around on the edge of a groomer.

     
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  7. Beerman

    Beerman One of Us
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    If ski school is really important, pick a place based on that. As @Dave6 just mentioned, the groomed runs are fine and as they progress, they will realise it is another adventure/dimension to skiing. My lot hadn't seen it before Japan, and were able to duck in and out of the deeper stuff as it suited them, at their pace.

    Skiing is about fun,it doesn't get much more fun than powder:thumbs:
     
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  8. skichanger

    skichanger A Local
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    English language ski schools are available in quite a few areas. Seems like more each year.
     
  9. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local
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    As above myoko snowsports is Wesome.

    Japan is great and better to get them to start skiing pow now. My 3 yo was skiing it on the side of runs
     
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  10. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Some background for reference. My kids are 11 and 8 yrs old and have been skiing every year since they were 2 and 3 yrs old. They've done 5 ski trips to Japan and 4 to North America(USA/Canada). Last year (2017) we did Fernie and Red Mountain. This year was a selection of resorts in Hokkaido Japan. They always have a few lessons every trip.

    The skiing. In general the resort skiing in Japan is easier. The snow conditions are more forgiving, more fresh soft snow, rare to get hard packed icy groomers for very long. Black runs in Japan are easier and shorter than what you'll find in many North American resorts. Temps also are generally milder when compared to interior Canadian resorts. As for the powder, while it does generally snow more they still groom the runs every night so your kids won't be skiing knee to waist deep powder unless you choose to take them off piste. Most likely they'll start on the groomers and just duck off the sides every now and then to make some fresh tracks in the powder.

    Ski schools. Just like North America they're all a little different. Some resorts will only do private English lessons while others will do group lessons. Some instructors will focus on making the lessons "fun", while others will work more on technique. Most of the English ski instructors are international instructors - Canadian, US, Aussie and Europeans, they're all there.

    So as for learning progression, it depends what you expect from your kids ? If you just want them to have fun and be good all round skiers then Japan can do that. If you want your kids to be ski racers or go to the winter Olympics before they're 20 then go back to North America. It all depends what you're after. :)
     
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  11. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Thanks for all of the advice, sounds like our concerns may have been unfounded.

    My concerns in progression was that I thought Teaching to ski powder may confuse the kids a little. But this sounds like it isn’t an issue.

    Has anyone used evergreen in Hakuba, thoughts?
     
  12. Piste Again

    Piste Again Part of the Furniture
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    ^^^ this ^^^

    They do a great job and they redefine customer service.
     
  13. oldgeezer

    oldgeezer Addicted

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    Should be fine as outlined. On the go in the large cities can be stressful for kids on account of the pressing crowds everywhere in Japan vis a vis Canada but that doesn't seem to be the scenario here.
     
  14. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    We have the benefit of comparison; as you know we’ve just gotten back from Canada and had the privilege of going to Japan in January 2016. I took my three children (then aged 12, 9, and 6) and a good friend of mine also came along with her two. No problems whatsoever. Sightseeing in Tokyo for 5 days beforehand (fantastic), then a week each in Nozawa Onsen and Hakuba. My youngest had lessons at the English language ski school in Nozawa, although we didn’t worry about this in Hakuba as my lot are all very competent skiers. Evergreen do English lessons there, though. We found Japan to very family friendly, and loved the culture and experience. Highly recommended, @zac150!
     
  15. Lady Penelope

    Lady Penelope One of some lot ...
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    Ps @silva may also have views; she’s experienced North America and Japan too.
     
  16. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Thanks, I may pick you brain on this at the Canberra catch up.
     
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  17. silva

    silva Hard Yards

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    From my point of view both destinations have their plusses and minuses and then 'best' destination will depend on what you are looking to get out of the holiday and your families preferences.
    If you have little snowboarders in the family I think US/Canadian destinations have the edge from the snowboard school front options for English speaking kids lessons in Japan are few and far between and often very expensive.
    If you like on snow apartment accommodation. Then definately go US/Canada.
    If you would like some cultural side trips and enjoy Japanese for and culture Japan is awesome.
    Other US/Canada advantages are bigger resorts - lots to do and you can easily base yourself somewhere for several weeks and get the benefit of season pass prices. Seamless, professional ski/snowboard school and hire. I think the only place in Japan that even comes close is Myoko snowsports. Lots of resorts in the US also have close airports. Arrive, 30min shuttle, done.
    Japan advantages - more cultural differences, onsens, shorter long haul flight.
    From a $s point of view we have found the destinations about equally priced. Accommodation is more expensive in Japan (lodge style accom for a family with shared facilities worked out around $300 per night in Hakuba - apartments are much more) airfares are more to the US.
     
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  18. Kash

    Kash Hard Yards

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    Zac150, we took our 5 and 6 year olds to Hakuba Jan17 for a week. They loved it and by the end of the week were riding a bit of the mountain with us. Evergreen ski school is excellent. We had a mix of instructors, some amazing some not but most good. All were western instructors (oz, kiwi or Europeans). You drop them in at 9.30 and collect them at 3.30 for a full day, so you'll need to negotiate with the better half for the first 1-2hrs on your own (like I did on pow days). Its worth it as the lifts open at 8am in Happo, or 7am on weekends.

    Pow wasn't a problem for them, and it snowed about 2m in total over the week we were there - as others have said the lessons mostly stick to the groomers. Its funny how some people say they wouldn't go to Japan because the snow is too deep. Its only too deep for an hour or so in the morning until its tracked out, or unless you go off piste. Remember that many of the runs are groomed anyway.

    Japan rocks, but just remember its getting super exxie to fly there in January, so you may actually find the US or Europe flights not much different at that time.

    Agree with the above - accom you can get for $300 per night for something decent in Hakuba. Probably a bit cheaper in Myoko or one of the lesser known resorts.

    Just remember that probably one week out every four in Honshu's ski resorts are usually warm, rainy and average. So that's a risk. The rest of the time you should experience regular freshies. If you want more snow reliability as its colder, Hokkaido is a better bet but the mountains are smaller than Honshu's and the only big resort up there is Niseko. Im sure you know that its not what it used to, but Rusutsu and Furano are also great resorts.
     
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  19. PG2736

    PG2736 Hard Yards

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    We have found it cheaper to go to the US than Japan recently! My kids are 8 & 10 and we just find the infrastructure, big choice of food and quality of the hotels at the big North American resorts suits us better at the moment.
     
  20. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Just interested to know which resorts in Japan and the US are you comparing with your pricing ?
     
  21. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Copper via Fiji.
    Obviously
     
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  22. Jellybeans1000

    Jellybeans1000 Walking on a dream
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    Where's our favourite travel agent?
     
  23. silva

    silva Hard Yards

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    From my point of view cost wise I am comparing Hakuba, Nozawa, Myoko, shiga kogan and Madarao with interior Canadian resorts (sun peaks, Silver Star, red, fernie etc) and US resorts (steamboat, Jackson hole, big Sky, whitefish, telluride). In Japan I am looking for English speaking ski school, large enough resort to keep interest for at least 10 days. We look for pension style accom, usually with share bathroom and it's a big bonus if there is laundry facilities and some form of kitchen access. In Canada and the US I am costing apartment accommodation on snow - if not ski in then close. In all cases costing a 3 week trip in January.
    For 2a 1c indicative costing
    Japan . US and Canada
    Airfares. $4000. $6000
    Accom . 300 X 20 $6000. $1500 PW = $4500 (found almost ski in accom for this or less at all resorts except JH @ T)
    Passes. 150 * 20 $3000 . $2800 season passes
    Transfers . $600 . $200

    Add in whatever snow school you need. Yes, you can do all destination cheaper and much more expensively - this is just how it worked out for us as an average (this year's trip accom and season passes ended up a fair bit cheaper than above). The numbers would certainly be different for a 2 week or less trip as once you get over 2 weeks long stay discounts and season passes come in to play for the US and Canada where as these sort of discounts seem to be much less common in Japan.

    We love all 3 destinations and will no doubt return to all of them .
     
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  24. Annabuzzy

    Annabuzzy Part of the Furniture

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    Japanese love kids, so travelling with kids is super easy.

    There's lots of groomed runs so they don't need to ski powder.

    Either would be a good choice
     
  25. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Cheers for the info, I’m now pretty comfortable that the kids will have a ball.

    Being in Canberra adds extra flights but I think Japan is winning out for some variation, that and the boss wants a beach holiday.

    Sitting on a beach for twelve days is almost my worst nightmare (cruise ship being hell on high water for me) so after costing out dive holidays I thought the money would be better spent skiing.

    So I’m investigating Canberra to Japan via Singapore with five or six days on a beach there (Palau Bintan), then onto Japan, a few days in Tokyo, 10 days on snow.

    I put this to the boss and she didn’t throw anything at me so I’m guessing that’s a yes.
     
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  26. zac150

    zac150 One of Us
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    Ok so initial numbers suggest Japan is a lot cheaper!

    Flights alone from Canberra to Singapore, Japan return are coming in at least $4k cheaper for a family of four albeit we did have an internal flight in Canada.

    Accommodation is looking at around the $300 a night but this is for a queen size bed and a bunk bed. Kids will much prefer this over sharing which they did a bit in Canada.

    Is this configuration common in Japan?

    Also any recommendations for accommodation in Tokyo or Hakabu? I can deal with anything from 0 to 5 star just interested to hear people’s recommendations.
     
  27. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    Tokyo.
    With family in tow.
    Airbnb is the best value.
     
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  28. silva

    silva Hard Yards

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    4 single beds are more common in Japan. Finding somewhere with a queen size bed is actually almost rare unless you are headed to the more westernised resorts. Which resorts are you looking at?
    I found booking.com good for researching family hotels in Tokyo.
    If you are only planning 10 days on snow Japan will almost certainly be more economical.
     
  29. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    IMO hotels in Tokyo are too small.
     
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  30. Tanuki

    Tanuki A Local
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    This, we stayed in an airbnb in Nishi Shinjuku, Tokyo recently and it was great value and larger than the usual hotel. We also stayed at the New Otani which was one of the only hotels we could find that had larger rooms at a 'reasonable' price.
     
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  31. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Yeah AirBnB is hands down the best way to stay in Tokyo for groups of 3 or larger
     
  32. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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  33. zarik

    zarik Early Days

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    For a different experience stay in a Japanese hotel either fancy or not with hot spring. Completely different experience. The “ryokan” ones will do the dinner and breakfast which is often A LOT of food. Some will have unlimited rice and miso soup, so you can load on energy for next day.

    As an example recently stayed in this place http://www.hakuba-ryujin.com/ bath is awesome, food is ok(yakineku is better then the Japanese style stuff they have). Rooms are 2 double futons. This is not ryokan so foodnis extra. Other bonus for people with small kids(like us) Goryu has relatively cheap daycare.

    Soaking in outdoor bath(this one has 3-4 types), then dipping into cold bath then some more of the hot. It is addictive and relaxes muscles in a big way. My 4 year old was enjoying for almost 2 hours. And when snow is dumping on you as you contemplate next day, it is amazing.

    One more thing for “rain” days in Hakuba check forecast and cams for Mt Norikura ski resort it is maybe 2 hours by car, rent of maybe talk to a school in Hakuba, if you higher a teacher for a day maybe he can give you a ride? It is significantly colder and very rarely rains, this season I think only once and it was solid ice by morning.
     
  34. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local
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    Honestly I just did this.

    Choose USA (for other reason besides price) but we got 5 nights accom walking distance to heavenly lifts for $350 for 5 nights.

    Could have got a self contained condo for $99USD a night too. Still might... (can cancel the cheap accom)

    Free lift tickets with Epic and we are sorted.

    Airfare to USA was cheaper than anything i have seen to Sapporo (i have fare alerts still pinging me) Direct on QF.
     
  35. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    Is that $US350 per person ? Or $US350 for the WHOLE condo for 5 nights ?

    Paid $759 return to Sapporo this year with a full service carrier during January school holidays. I've had some cheap deals to LAX over the years but pretty hard to get to a US or Canadian resort for that price during peak school holidays.
     
  36. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local
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    350 for 5 nights for the whole hotel room - happy to show you the receipt.

    A condo is $99 a night. (put the date into expedia 25th - 30th March).

    I have seen prices like that for japan as well. But sometimes it doesn't work that way. I was comparing apples to apples and just saying it worked out cheaper for me at this time to go to the US.
     
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  37. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    I flew return Melb - Sapporo for $775 2 seasons ago in peak season of Jan. I've honestly always thought of skiing North America as more expensive as the flight alone is upwards of $1,000.
     
  38. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    No don't need the receipt. LOL ..I just wanted to clarify the price details. :thumbs:

    I know you can get cheap deals around Heavenly, we spent two months there some years ago and paid $2100 per month ($70 a night) for a 2 bedroom ski in/ski out condo with a private hot tub, right next to Stagecoach lift. So I know you can do it.

    Both the US and Japan can be done on the cheap with a little digging. :)
     
  39. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    In my experience of skiing both Japan and North America on many trips I'd summarise the costs this way.

    Flights - Japan is normally cheaper by at least a few hundred per person.
    Accommodation - North America has a larger range and better value apartments for groups/families. But Japan offers some cheap singles pricing.
    Lift tickets - Japan is cheaper for daily lift passes. North America does offer some good season pass deals for longer stays but you can also get similar season pass pricing in Japan.

    Japan and North America offer a different type of ski holiday (ski terrain, snowfall, food, culture, accommodation). So in the end it depends on what sort of holiday you are after. :)
     
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  40. chicski

    chicski One of Us
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    Which airline though? I won’t fly Jetstar and other budgets internationally. Qantas to Japan is usually similar in price to USA.
     
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  41. Born2ski

    Born2ski Part of the Furniture

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    We flew with EVA Air out of Brisbane this January for $759 return. At the moment Singapore Air are showing fares in the $800 range for flights out of Brisbane for Jan 2019.
     
  42. chicski

    chicski One of Us
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    Sydney and Canberra more, just over the $1000 mark. With stops in Singapore. You can usually get flights to USA for $1200-1300. Direct. Direct to Japan are similar prices.
     
  43. Sbooker

    Sbooker Hard Yards

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    This sounds about right.
    I believe it's not worth comparing price too much because you're buying a different kind of holiday.
    One thing I do know from my research for our January 2019 Europe ski trip is US and Canada is definitely cheaper.
     
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  44. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local
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    Yep!

    Especially to Sapporo - or you have the bullet train to add it.

    Sydney to the west coast of the US is similarly priced.

    Accom is similarly priced and so with an Epic pass. it wins.

    My last USA trip was about $1200 for flights that was for the last two weeks of Jan. YK paid a bit more cause he booked out of sale time - i think he paid $1800.
     
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  45. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local
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    As i said before - price wasn't the deciding factor for this trip. Something else was.

    Just sharing the price here
     
  46. Froff Life

    Froff Life A Local
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    Good point, it was shitJ* and we were 6 hours delayed. Pay for what you get!
     
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  47. chicski

    chicski One of Us
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    With exchange rates now, Japan isn’t the cheap holiday it used to be. But for a quick trip it wins on travel time. I can’t leave home late afternoon and be skiing by lunchtime next day if I go to USA. And Japanese food wins by far. But for a months holiday, USA is better value. Still shit food though.
     
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  48. Ozgirl

    Ozgirl A Local
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    Big pancakes though!
     
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  49. Donzah

    Donzah Part of the Furniture
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    snows a bit in Japan as well.
     
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  50. chicski

    chicski One of Us
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    You can still luck out though. Have had Japan groomer trips.

    You’re right though. 3 weeks at Breckenridge, 1 powder day. Probably get more in Japan.